The Big Issue with Two Coins

In this piece of flash (very short length) literature, death is certain but does not always transpire the way many intend it to do.

‘Over there! One with briefcase!’ shouted out Lashin, one of two Muscovites seeking their prey. ‘Get on with it, now!’

His partner, Voskov, immediately raced across the busy London road as if in an effort to kill himself rather than the target.

‘Sir?’ said Voskov, approaching his target furtively from behind.

‘Huh?’ mumbled Branscombe, a leading lawyer working on the Moscow gas scandal. He turned around to face the Muscovite.

‘I need pound coin to dry clothes…’  Voskov nodded to a nearby launderette.  He then produced two 50p pieces from a small but heavily lead-lined purse.  A smile broke easily across his face.

‘I catch your drift,’ said Branscombe, digging a pound coin out of his pockets and making the exchange. ‘You’re lucky I had a pound coin to give you.’

‘There are many ways to place two 50p pieces on your person, sir.’


Voskov simply broke into a smile…and held it.

After a beat, Branscombe turned away, heading off without as much as a backwards glance.  Voskov’s smile eroded into a sneer before he carefully negotiated his way back across the busy road to a beaming Lashin.

‘It is done, comrade,’ chirped Voskov.  ‘Soon, slow death will call!’

Meanwhile, Branscombe, who usually strolled home in thirty uninterrupted therapeutic minutes, was disturbed for a second time in quick succession.  An unshaven predator emerged from a shop doorway with the eyes of a dead man desperately needing a fix.

‘Big Issue, mate?  It’s my last mag…  Only one measly pound, mate.’

‘You’re in luck, “mate”.’  Branscombe palmed the zombied man two 50p pieces and relieved him of his magazine. He then trundled on homewards unaware of his brief tango with Death.

Meanwhile, the Big Issue dealer lurched into a nearby pub across the road…

‘Ah, “Big Issue”…   the usual?’ said the bartender.


A lager slid invitingly towards ‘Big Issue’.

‘That’s £2.50, exactly.’

From his jingling moneybag, ‘Big Issue’ pushed five 50p pieces across the counter.

Next into the pub danced a pair of jubilant Muscovites.

They ordered vodkas separately— hardly noticing the radioactive 50p pieces given in their change and tucked away deep in their pockets.

‘To Death!’ they cried triumphantly, raising and crashing their glasses.

© neotom 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Yep, I like this, a clever little story well told.


Kind of you to say.

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